The battle continues to wage between Allstate and the state of Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation. The problem arose when the Regulation Office began investigating Allstate’s property insurance practices in Florida. Allstate had requested a double-digit increase in the rates for its homeowner’s insurance, and Florida was investigating possible collusion between Allstate and risk-modeling firms, rating agencies and re-insurers to set prices at artificially high levels. When Allstate failed to submit all of the documents Florida had demanded as part of its investigation, the Florida Insurance Commissioner, Kevin McCarty, suspended the rights of 10 of Allstate’s companies to do business in Florida. A Florida appeals court has decided to lift the ban. But I don’t think the state of Florida is done with Allstate.
When insurance companies flash this kind of arrogance to personal injury lawyers, the general public, judges and state regulatory agencies, not surprisingly, often yawn. But when you flout the authority of an entire state, folks are going to take notice. In response to Florida’s subpoena, Allstate has filed 122 objections. Word to the wise: state agencies are not used to being treated with such disdain.
Florida is not the only place where Allstate is under scrutiny. When a Missouri judge ordered Allstate to turn over similar documents to those sought in Florida, Allstate once again ignored the state and has evaded the Missouri court’s contempt order for four months. Allstate scoffs at the $25,000.00 a day fine imposed by the judge and continues to withhold the requested documents.
Here in Maryland, Allstate was fined $750,000.00 in December for improper rate increases and for violating state laws about how it notifies consumers of changes and files notice of those changes with the agency.
There is an obvious question here: what does Allstate have to hide? If you are willing to allow your license to sell insurance to be suspended in a market like Florida and you are willing to fork over $25,000.00 a day in contempt fines (not to mention the ensuing bad publicity) the guess is that Allstate has some pretty disreputable business practices it would like to keep under wraps. As for me, I’m shocked – shocked! – that gambling is going on in this establishment.